This post explores the 5 June 1964 British Pathe Film of a UFO taken at Woomera, South Australia. This case has often been regarded as a classic and is said to have been linked to the famous English, Solway "spaceman" photograph taken on 23 May 1964. It is now solved.
Over the years I have compiled a number of specialised Australian case catalogues of UFO reports. One of these is a "Catalogue of Australian Photographic UFO reports."
I stopped compiling this particular catalogue in 2005, when digital photography, and sophisticated software packages made it very easy to produce hoax images. In addition, with the number of digital images being produced and available on the net, I just couldn't keep up with all the claimed images, even just for Australia.
One of the cases which is in the catalogue, has the following entry:
"5 June 1964 Woomera, South Australia
This photograph was taken at the launching of a Blue Streak rocket, and shows an oval blob of light near the rocket. A black and white print in the FSR source was apparently from a colour movie."
The primary source was the English Flying Saucer Review Sep/Oct 1964 page 4, which carried one black and white photograph.
By 2003, when the Disclosure Australia Project commenced, I hadn't come across any further information.
Disclosure Australia Project:
The Disclosure Australia Project took a five year time frame to locate and document the Australian Government's UFO file holdings (see http://disclosureaustralia.freewebpages.org)
One set of possibly relevant files on which detail about the 5 June 1964 sighting may have been found, was file series 580/1/1. This was the RAAF's master set of UFO reports. Part four of this series covered the time frame January 1963 to 4 December 1965. An examination of this file revealed that there were no recorded UFO reports for the entire month of June 1964.
Over the years the Project uncovered about 150 UFO files related to UFO research, and examined the majority of these.
One discovered file was D174/SA5281 held by the Federal Government's Department of Supply. This Department was responsible for the operation of the Joint United-Kingdom -Australia Weapons Research Project which operated the Woomera rocket range. As the 5 June 1964 photo/movie involved the launch of a Blue Streak rocker from Woomera, this was a promising lead. However, file D174/SA5281 turned out only to cover the period 1952-1955.
A search was therefore conducted for other Department of Supply files, or other files related to Woomera. A second file was located, with the date range being 1952-1968, therefore covering the year 1964. It was hoped that this file, D250/56/483 might assist. It was titled "Reports on unidentified aircraft, strange occurrences etc" and was held by the Weapons Research area of the Department of Supply. Unfortunately, despite and extensive examination there was nothing on this file relating to the 5 June 1961 photo/movie.
We came across no other files which covered Woomera in 1964. However, we did locate, on the National Archives of Australia's website, a reference to a series D897, Unknown objects - DSTO WRE (A-K 1948-1957) - Australian Archives. The series notes stated that the "Series contains approximately 4800 colour and black and white slides. Controlling records for this series (D896) indicates there are some 6200 slides registered between 1947 and 1961. The whereabouts of the missing 1400 slides is not known...These are slides of Skylark launches, Jindivik trials, Blue Streak movements and some unidentified objects..." This then was another promising lead.
The Project located a register for these slides in the Adelaide office of the National Archives of Australia. Archives staff produced two bound volumes which contained dates, reference numbers and details of the photographs. A close examination of these details of hundreds of pictures, revealed none of a Blue Streak launch for 5 June 1964. However, later, Disclosure Australia Project staffer Dominic McNamara located a still photograph at the Adelaide office which paralleled the one from the FSR. (Source: Telephone conversation between Dom and Keith, 10 December 2010.)
This then, was the sum total of Disclosure Australia staff knowledge which could be added to the available information. If a sighting report of the 5 June 1964 UFO had been made, we could find no record of it.
The Solway Firth photograph:
The 5 June 1964 Woomera photo/movie has been related by some researchers to the famous 23 May 1964 English Solway Firth photograph. What was the connection?
Jim Templeton took three pictures of his daughter. The middle picture showed what looked like a "spaceman" behind his daughter's head.
"A Blue Streak launch at the Woomera test range, using Cumbrian-built weaponry, had been aborted because of two large men seen on the firing range. Technicians at the time did not know about Templeton's sighting until it appeared on the front page of an Australian newspaper,and they said that the figure in Cumbria looked the same as the ones they had seen on the monitor at Woomera. Templeton told the BBC that technicians considered the two figures to be 'exactly the same type of man: same dress,same figure, same size as in the original photograph.'" (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solway_Firth_Spaceman )
So, the connection is said to be, on an unknown date, people at Woomera involved in a Blue Streak rocket launch saw two figures the same as the figure in the 23 May 1964 Solway photograph. Do we have a date for the Blue Streak launch?
"Not long afterwards the editor of the Cumberland News newspaper contacted Jim and asked if he could borrow the negative to send a copy out to Australia. Apparently the photograph had appeared in the press there and staff working at the Woomera test range area in Southern Australia had seen it. Jim was told that the day after he took his photograph,a Blue Streak space rocket was due to be launched from Woomera in Australia..." (Source: http://www.ufologie.net/htm/solwayfirth64.htm )
So, the date of the aborted Blue Streak launch, according to this source was 24 May 1964, and not 5 June 1964.
ELDO - the European Launcher Development Organisation - was established to develop a satellite launcher for Europe. Tests were based in Woomera.The cancelled British "Blue Streak" ICBM became the first stage of the launcher. The second stage was built by the french and the third stage by Germany.The first launch was on 5 June 1964, and involved the first stage only.
This is the date of the UFO photo/movie. (Source: http://homepage.powerup.com.au/~woomera/eldo.htm )
Thus, there would appear to be no links between the 23 May 1964 Solway photograph and the 5 June 1964 UFO photo/movie. The 5 June 1964 photo/movie stands alone.
1996 and 2010
I was unaware that English ufologist Jenny Randles in a 1996 TV documentary "Tales of the paranormal" reported on the 5 June 1964 footage, but found the relevant film canister missing from the British National Archives. An English MP, John Fraser, saw the documentary and launched an inquiry into the incident and the missing footage.
In 2010, David Clarke, senior lecturer in Journalism at Sheffield Hallam University, examined newly released files from the British Minstry of Defence, and found material related to the 5 June 1964 photo/movie. "When they actually looked at the papers back in 1964, British Pathe Film, who were actually there at the rocket launch and made the film, they wrote into the MOD and said, 'yeh there was soemthing on the film but it's quite clear to us looking at it that it's an internal camera fault, like a reflection in the lens.' The missing canister of filmed 'evidence' had been stored at the Imperial War Museum instead of the National Archived." (Source: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/breaking-news/outback-flying-saucer-a-trick-of-light-not-a-ufo-says-british-government-files/story-fn3dxity-1225901495970 )
Film found on the net!
That seemed to be the end of the story, but as I prepared this post,on a whim, I searched the net using the terms "british pathe blue streak 1964." This took me to the website of British Pathe Film and the very movie which is the subject of the post -the 5 June 1964 UFO movie!
The video clip on the site is titled "Woomera, Blue Streak - Two, One, Zero" and is listed as from canister 64/48. The issue date was 11 June 1964, and since the only Blue Streak launch had taken place on 5 June 1964 it must be the movie of the UFO.
Indeed, as I ran the video,( source: http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=43301) it clearly was. There, on the left hand side of the rocket is a classic internal lens reflection.
Sometimes, it takes an aweful long time to get to the actual facts behind a UFO story. In this instance, the fact that the film canister in question was missing in 1996 added an air of mystery. However, research has now lead to a copy of the original film, and the UFO in question is clearly a classic internal lens flare, and the case can therefore be removed from the "UFO" category.
P.S. For far more interesting UFO cases from Woomera, do take a look at the Disclosure Australia website at http://disclosureaustralia.freewebpages.org Check out the Newsletters and the two part final report.